Marcia Gay Harden’s 7 Best Onscreen One-Liners
Marcia Gay Harden can’t help but showcase her mastery of every acting medium. Between her performances as the artist Lee Krasner in the 2000 biopic “Pollock,” the agoraphobic Harper Pitt in the original Broadway staging of “Angels in America,” and the emergency room physician Leanne Rorish in her current CBS series “Code Black,” just to name a few, she exudes a signature excellence with every character she plays.
But the latest role for the Oscar and Tony winner, who is also a two-time Emmy nominee, is author, as the actor has penned her memoir “The Seasons of My Mother.” In the book, she uses the floral imagery and Ikebana art to depict the unique creative bond that she has had with her mother throughout the years — and how, together, they are facing her mother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.
On Monday May 14, she will discuss the project with journalist Lisa Napoli at Santa Monica’s Ann and Jerry Moss Theatre as part of Live Talks Los Angeles.
Ahead of the event, let’s looks back at just a handful of Harden’s best onscreen one-liners.
1. She better get un-messed up in a hurry because she’s a character witness, and she looks like the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”
Leave it to Harden to shake up “The Newsroom.” She joined the HBO series’s second season in 2013 as Rebecca Halliday, a fierce litigator who was originally set to be played by Rosemarie DeWitt. Yet her ability to deliver a severe line — written by Aaron Sorkin, no less — kept viewers gasping in delight.
2. “Work from love. Grow from love.”
In the 1996 comedy “The First Wives Club,” Harden pushes Diane Keaton’s Annie while playing the straight-laced Dr. Leslie Rosen, a therapist who first challenges her to complete a violent yet hilarious exercise, and then double-crosses her client by sleeping with her husband. Her catchphrase gets repeated later on, as Annie gets her own revenge.
3. “If I didn’t know better, I would say that this is an interrogation.”
Harden’s guest appearance on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” earned her her first Emmy nomination. She has played FBI agent Dana Lewis in a few episodes to date, going toe-to-toe with Mariska Hargitay’s Olivia Benson and later aligning with her on a personal case. (She nabbed a second nomination for the 2009 movie “The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler.”)
4. “Oh, honey, I can’t do all the work for you.”
Marcia Gay Harden reciting lines penned by Shonda Rhimes? That’s what happened in 2015, when she appeared in “How to Get Away With Murder” as Hannah Keating, the accusing sister of the late husband of Viola Davis’s Annalise Keating. The first season was peppered with delicious showdowns, including this one on the witness stand.
5. “In the future, don’t demand a day-off meeting to clean up another shit storm that you should have been competent enough to keep from exploding out of your own ass.”
It really does take a certain caliber of acting to be able to go head-to-head with Glenn Close’s Patty Hewes in the FX legal thriller “Damages.” But Harden held more than her own as the ruthless corporate attorney Claire Maddox when she joined the show for its second season in 2009.
6. “Yeah, but, you had to, right?”
After winning her first Academy Award for the 2000 film “Pollock,” Harden nabbed her second nomination for her performance in “Mystic River” as Celeste Boyle, the wife to Tim Robbins’s Dave Boyle. She was initially loyal when uttering these comforting words, but blew audiences away as she wrestled with her own guilt.
7. “Well, if you’re trying to avoid me, the very least you could do is call me by my correct name, which would be Mum.”
In the three “Fifty Shades of Grey” films, released from 2015 through 2018, Harden played the role of Grace Trevelyan Grey, the adoptive mother of Jamie Dornan’s Christian Grey. And though she only appeared occasionally, Fusion called her “a scene-stealer” and suggested the franchise be renamed “Fifty Shades of Marcia Gay.”